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Heavy Sandstorm Blankets Baghdad


A heavy sandstorm has blown into Baghdad, covering the Iraqi capital in dust. Condition were so bad, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was forced to cancel a planned trip to the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in the country's north.

Wind whipped across the streets of the Baghdad, leaving much of the capital hidden in a dusty haze.

Many shops closed their doors, making parts of the city looking deserted. Those who did go outside wore surgical masks to help them breathe. One Iraqi man said there are many reasons for the frequent sandstorms plaguing Baghdad. He blames a lack of rain but also the U.S.-led forces. He says their heavy vehicles scatter the sands when they drive through the desert.

Police and security forces wore surgical masks as they helped direct traffic and keep watch.

Despite the difficulties some Iraqis were glad to see the sandstorm, like street vendor Abdulallah Najem. He said the sandstorms help him sell face masks, enough to make a living.

Stores, too, were selling a variety of masks, showing customers how to use them.

But even with the availability of the surgical masks, it is hard to breathe.

Many Iraqis headed to hospitals to get help from doctors and from machines as they struggled to get enough air.

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